Iran-US talks should not negatively impact the Kurds: KRG Envoy

KRG Representative to the US Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman spoke during a webinar on April 27, 2021. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
KRG Representative to the US Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman spoke during a webinar on April 27, 2021. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - The Kurdistan Region should not be negatively affected by talks between Iran and the US on returning to the nuclear deal, a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) official said on Tuesday.

“What happens in our neighborhood impacts us. Iran's relationship with the United States impacts us. We hope whether the talks between the US and Iran go ahead or not, whether it's successful or failure, they will not impact the Kurdistan Region negatively,” KRG Representative to the US Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman said.

“We are a neighbor to Iran, and we are hopefully a forever partner to the United States,” she added.

Abdul Rahman and Sinam Sherkany Mohamad, the representative of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) in Washington, DC, spoke in a webinar hosted jointly by Yale University’s Jackson Center for Global Affairs and the non-profit Justice for Kurds.

Tuesday’s event marked the third such webinar in a four-part series held weekly through May 4.

President Joe Biden’s administration recently resumed indirect talks with Iran over returning to the 2015 nuclear deal after former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018.

“We don't want to be the pawn that is exchanged or trampled on, in these talks, whether they succeed or fail,” Abdul Rahman continued.

“We want both sides to recognize the value that Kurdistan Region brings to Iraq, and to the neighborhood and to the international coalition against ISIS and extremism and to protect Kurdistan from any negative outcomes.”

The US-led Coalition’s base in Erbil has become the target of rocket and now drone attacks, seen by some observers as a message to the United States, but a threat to the security of the Kurdistan Region and civilians.

In mid-April, a drone loaded with explosives struck the military annex near Erbil International Airport, the first such attack in the Kurdish capital.

Abdul Rahman said that whatever happens in neighbouring countries affects the Kurdistan Region, including the economy in Turkey, Turkish relations with the European Union and the US, and the situation in Syria.

ISIS spread itself across Syria and Iraq, that impacted all of us in the region, but particularly the Kurds in both countries.”

Kurds Cannot Be Ignored

Abdul Rahman said some 50 million Kurds in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran cannot be ignored. “If you're talking about the Middle East, if you are considering the Middle East, you cannot do so without taking into consideration the Kurdish view.”

She said Kurds had played a kingmaker role in elections in Turkey and Iraq: “And I dare say, in Syria when the time comes, the same will happen … you cannot disregard the Kurds or SDC any longer in Syria. They are part of the picture and part of the solution.”

She added that although the KRG respects Washington’s “one Iraq” policy, “you cannot have any Iraq without Kurdistan.”

Syrian Kurds Excluded

SDC official Sinam Sherkany Mohamad said Syrian Kurds had been denied entry to talks in Geneva or the constitution committee to determine Syria’s future. Experts widely blame Turkey for refusing to allow the Syrian-Kurdish led SDC to join the talks.

Last week clashes erupted between the internal security forces (Asayish) in northeast Syria and the pro-regime National Defense Forces militia in the city of Qamishlo, which ended with the Asayish taking control of the al-Tay neighborhood after a ceasefire brokered by Russia.

“A lot of changes happened,” and Bashar al-Assad’s regime has not recognized them, Mohamad said.

“We called on [Damascus] to have peaceful talks, in order to have stability and reach a solution for the Syrian crisis with the Syrian regime, but the Syrian regime is still having the mentality to control the whole region as it was before 2011,” she said.

Editing by Joanne Stocker-Kelly